Autism is a condition that is commonly misunderstood.
Puzzle Gourmet Store & Café aims to change that by employing people with autism as servers.
The Cafe was named after the owner’s son’s favorite hobby: building puzzles. He’s such a pro at it, he can easily accomplish 2000-piece Puzzle in just 7 hours! Jose Canoy, the owner’s son, is 20 years old and differently-abled. He was diagnosed with autism as a child, but that hasn’t stopped his family from putting up a cafe that will give Jose something to do and help him earn a living as well.
Currently, Puzzle employs 9 differently-abled servers: 7 have autism while the other 2 have down syndrome. Through them, the cafe puts the spotlight on autism and encourages discussion to correct common misconceptions.
What is autism anyway?
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a lifelong developmental condition that affects an individual’s interaction with other people and one’s environment. “The word ‘spectrum’ describes the range of difficulties that people with autism may experience and the degree to which they may be affected.”
It is generally accepted that autism is caused by abnormalities in the brain structure or function. Research has yet to provide the exact cause of autism, but some of the leading theories link it to heredity, genetics, and medical problems.
Did You Know?
About 1 percent of the world population has autism spectrum disorder. (CDC, 2014
Prevalence has increased by 6-15 percent each year from 2002 to 2010. (Based on biennial numbers from the CDC)
67 children are diagnosed per day.
A new case is diagnosed almost every 20 minutes.
Despite the developmental difficulties that people with autism might have, Puzzle proves to its customers that differently-abled people can do a lot of things. Some have the sharpest minds for particular subjects like history, while others have a knack for organizing things, like Jose. They are gifted in so many ways.
Though the highlight of the café is their campaign to raise awareness for autism, the food and the Gourmet Store deserve the spotlight as well.
Despite the terrible weather, we braved the storm on our way to Puzzle and found a completely different atmosphere as soon as we stepped inside the café. Sheer happiness was painted all over it with splashes of color here and there, mismatched chairs and tables, and various whimsical arts & crafts projects lying around. Inspirational messages related to autism are plastered all over the walls and tables with one uniting message: “Piece Together.”
All of us, even people with autism are like puzzle pieces, unique in our own ways and jagged at the edges; but if we take the time to get to know each other and learn from each other’s difficulties and differences, then we will be able to see the bigger picture, just like a puzzle.
Following the script taught to them, our server greeted us, handed us the menu, and shortly after took our orders using her clipboard. Theirs is a menu of Asian fusion and comfort food. Since it was quite a chilly day, we decided to warm up with an excellent cup of brewed coffee and a steaming, comforting bowl of their soup of the day: Cream of Mushroom.
Enticed by the sight of feta cheese on the menu, I ordered their Garden Fresh Pasta of feta cheese, garlic, tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, drizzled in olive oil. With such fine ingredients, how can you go wrong? Perfectly al dente, the pasta tasted fresh and cheesy, just the way I like it. It was really the feta cheese and parmesan cheese that stole the show for this dish.
RJ went for their funnily named sandwich, Deli-Kado, of assorted cold cuts, cheese, lettuce, tomato, sandwiched in between flatbread ciabatta. It was a perfect sandwich: the sandwich was easy to handle, the bread was well seasoned and soft, the cold cuts were impeccably salty, and balanced off with the other greens. If you’re a cold cuts lover, then this sandwich has your name written all over it. Since we’re lovers of spicy food, we asked for Sriracha on the side. Yes, they serve Sriracha!
I had a hankering for sushi, so their Ichi Ni San Sushi caught my attention. When she described it as baked sushi, I simply couldn’t resist – I had to try it! Among all of the dishes that we had, this deserves a standing ovation. Not only is it fun with the whole roll your own sushi, the baked sushi is just so divine! It made me think, “Maybe sushi ought to be prepared this way all the time?” Their wasabi also had that nice kick that will tingle your nose. When we checked their gourmet store, we saw that they had some legit wasabi for sale. No wonder their sauces are amazing!
Aside from Sriracha and wasabi, they also carry truffle oil, cooking spray, imported cookies and more awesome goodness. I guess I won’t need to take a trip to Santi’s all the time to refill my pantry.
Overall, this cafe gets 5 stars from me. The food is great, the service is awesome, and its advocacy is something I personally believe in. This cafe needs to be patronized and I will definitely keep coming back to keep it alive.
Puzzle Gourmet Store & Cafe
- Address: 1 Comets Loop, Blue Ridge B, 1109 Quezon City
- Operating Hours: Monday-Saturday: 11am-10pm
- Contact Details: [email protected], (0917) 501-9645
- Payment Methods: Visa, Cash
- Parking available in front of the cafe
- Menu: PDF